Jon Smith, a UK-based agent who headed Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth’s project to investigate A-League expansion into Asia, has expressed surprise the idea was knocked back by FFA CEO David Gallop.
“There’s been no indication of any commercial return guaranteed. I didn’t discourage them - I wanted them to go to see for themselves how problematic their proposal was. What conceptually on one level might look OK, on another had no meat to the bone,” Gallop said.
Gallop added such an idea would compromise the Asian Champions League and was unfeasible for numerous reasons.
The two clubs’ owners oppose the idea.
Today (Wed) Smith responded to Gallop’s comments in a release put out by the Mariners: "We took on the project, which Mike funded, held in-depth conversations with broadcasters and sponsors alike together with Australia's ASEAN neighbouring FAs and indeed the Hong Kong football association too.”
"We followed that with lengthy meetings at General Secretary and Executive levels at the AFC and FIFA.
"Without exception, every party understood that the logistics could work (10 day, two game road trips twice a season for each club including training camps) and financially were talking numbers way beyond the Hyundai A-League's expanded expectation, which in turn would have given rise to a number of marquee players plying their trade in the region.
"The governing bodies, whilst acknowledging the current barriers, were more than willing to discuss how those barriers could be dismantled and a special case made for the South East Asian region and indeed the Caribbean region too.
"Notwithstanding, he [Gallop] and his management team were always courteous, encouraging and indeed very professional in their dealings with us which is why we are somewhat surprised by his public comments in the last 48 hours.”